Man accused in Escondido predator case pleads not guilty to felo - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man accused in Escondido predator case pleads not guilty to felony charges

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VISTA (CNS) - A man accused of trying to kidnap female pedestrians in Escondido, including girls as young as 11, pleaded not guilty Thursday to 16 felony charges, including multiple counts of contacting a minor with the intent to commit a kidnapping and attempted kidnapping.

Spicer Van Allen Conant, 46, was ordered held on $2 million bail.

Conant was arrested during a traffic stop at West 13th Avenue and South Escondido Boulevard Tuesday morning, minutes after an 18-year-old woman agreed to get into his red 1994 Mazda Miata convertible, according to police.

In the trunk of the suspect's car, police found an assault rifle and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition, Lt. Justin Murphy said.

Beginning early last May, Conant -- a San Marcos resident -- allegedly drove up alongside girls and women on various Escondido roadways, asked them for directions to nearby streets or freeways and then urged them to get into his car, Murphy said.

Following the first several suspected abduction attempts, which involved girls ages 15 and 16, police identified Conant as the suspected perpetrator via a cellphone photo taken by a witness, Murphy said.

Though they ultimately decided that no crimes had occurred during the incidents, detectives interviewed Conant and put out a public bulletin seeking other potential victims. None came forward, and the case was closed, the lieutenant said.

On March 15, a man matching Conant's description and driving a red older- model Mazda Miata approached a 27-year-old woman and asked her for directions, according to Murphy.

After she complied with his request, the driver began insisting that she get into his vehicle to show him the way. Growing suspicious, the woman took a photo of him with her cellphone, at which point he drove off.

Due to the clear similarities with the earlier suspected abduction attempts, detectives put Conant under surveillance, Murphy said.

About 6:30 Tuesday morning, Conant left his home, drove into Escondido and approached five female pedestrians -- four of them minors -- over a period of about 90 minutes, the lieutenant said.

The first four declined his alleged exhortations to get into his car, but the other consented. Officers promptly pulled Conant over and took him into custody.

A readiness conference was set for May 9 and a preliminary hearing for June 20.

Conant faces a maximum of 21 years and two months in state prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Garret Wong.

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